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06-Aug-2017 11:39

(It’s not easy to raise the price of sex.) To be sure, there are those who hew to a more orthodox path — that is, dating without sex, followed by marriage in a timely fashion. Alternative online dating sites geared specifically toward Christians often disappoint, because their underlying template is no different. [Reverend and rabbi: Removing symbols of racism isn’t enough.

Just like secular Tinder or Ok Cupid, the Christian sites are guided by market-driven questions: What does he have to offer? We need policy action.] As marriage rates among Christians begin to decrease, additional change is afoot.

[Why even conservative evangelicals are unhappy with the anti-LGBT Nashville Statement] It’s not only in the diminished numbers of returnees that mating-market dynamics are affecting congregations.

Long-standing Christian sexual ethics are making less and less sense to the unchurched — a key market for evangelicals.

But if trends in sexual norms hold, most who once claimed neutrality eventually drift toward the more permissive position.

Cheap sex, it seems, has a way of deadening religious impulses.

Yale sociologist Justin Farrell assessed the sexual and marital attitudes of evangelicals and found consistent age differences — younger evangelicals (below age 30) were notably more permissive on nearly all issues, especially on pornography.

Critics might claim that this is nothing more than the standard age effect on sex visible from time immemorial — that older Americans have always been less permissive about sex than younger ones.

When we asked more than 15,000 Americans about sexual ethics, many who attended religious services at least once a week were on the fence. One can interpret those on the fence as movable — open to being convinced.

It’s able to poke holes in the “sacred canopy” over the erotic instinct, to borrow the late Peter Berger’s term.

Perhaps the increasing lack of religious affiliation among young adults is partly a consequence of widening trends in nonmarital sexual behavior among young Americans, in the wake of the expansion of pornography and other tech-enhanced sexual behaviors.

In step, many Christians’ expectations about marriage have dimmed. Many Orthodox Jews and Mormons have eschewed the wider mating market, while Christians in their 20s and 30s have not. Sex often follows, though sometimes after a longer period of time — a pattern that confuses them more than most, because premarital sex remains actively discouraged, but impossible to effectively prevent, in the church. Online dating treats human beings as rank-able commodities and speeds up our ability to circulate through them.

Whereas only 37 percent of the least religious never-married adults in the 2014 Relationships in America survey said they would prefer instead to be married, 56 percent of the most religious never-married adults said the same. These Christians’ narratives are seldom radically different from nonreligious Americans. Moreover, plenty of American Christians have taken breaks from the faith, been burned, returned and then struggle to navigate new relationships in a manner distinctive from their previous mating-market experiences. It can be navigated for noble purposes, but its baseline principles can’t really be reformed.The don’t-have-a-fiancee, don’t-have-a-boyfriend, actually-don’t-even-have-a-cute-crush-right-now-except-for-my-adorable-pup (although I promise I’m not that crazy dog lady), rsvp-for-just-one, set-the-thermostat-however-I-want, no-i’m-not-expecting-anyone, please-don’t-make-me-try-to-catch-the-freaking-bouquet, put-my-hands-UP-for-Beyonce kind of This fact still feels a little surreal since I never would have guessed a decade go — heck, even a few years ago — that I would find myself single at 30.